"Olive Schreiner's birth certificate" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceLetters/406
Epistolary Type
Letter Date1890
Address FromMatjesfontein, Western Cape
Address To
Who ToHavelock Ellis
Other VersionsCronwright-Schreiner 1924: 192
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
When Cronwright-Schreiner prepared The Letters of Olive Schreiner, with few exceptions he then destroyed her originals. However, some people gave him copies and kept the originals or demanded the return of these; and when actual Schreiner letters can be compared with his versions, his have omissions, distortions and bowdlerisations. Where Schreiner originals have survived, these will be found in the relevant collections across the OSLO website. There is however a residue of some 587 items in The Letters for which no originals are extant. They are included here for sake of completeness. However, their relationship to Schreiners actual letters cannot now be gauged, and so they should be read with caution for the reasons given. The year of the letter is implied by its place in the sequence of Cronwright-Schreiner letters.
1To Havelock Ellis.
4I've been talking so much to you all this week that now I sit down to
5write I seem to have said it all. Please be sure Stead gets an early
6copy of Dreams. I am sending back the first pages of the book. I want
7the words added to the Preface and I've revised “In a Far-off World.”..
8. When I die I want them to have a post-mortem and open my chest. If I
9am anywhere near you, will you come? In all my physical agony the
10thought sometimes comes to me, as the only consolation, that after my
11death some use might be made of my body, knowing what my disease had
12been. You will find it in my heart. That long asthma may have affected
13my lungs, and has now, but that isn't the root. It has always been a
14funny thing to me why opium and iron and prussic acid have been the
15only things that ever, though in quite different ways, really touched
16my diseases, and it was only last night, reading the book you sent,
17that I know why. They all three strengthen the heart's muscles. If I
18leave off taking iron for more than a week or two my asthma gets worse,
19 and that terrible contraction and pain I get in my stomach, that I
20used to get when I had to eat before people, was really asthma.